Dowdie says goodbye   8 Nov 2005

Ellie van Baaren

Craig Dowd didn’t have much of a choice when it came to rugby. He was born into it.

"I grew up on the sidelines watching my dad play," Dowd tells me over the phone here in London. It was different then. Rugby clubs were the only places you could go."

Not one to do things by half, Dowd made his All Black debut against the British and Irish Lions when they last toured New Zealand in June 1993 after veteran forward Richard Loe was suspended.

Pulling that black jersey over his head for the first time was a dream come true he says, and is still one of his favourite on-field memories. He also remembers the third test in that series fondly as it took the All Blacks to a 2-1 series victory over the Lions.

Born in Auckland, 36-year-old Dowd was part of the legendary Auckland squad of the mid-90s that dominated New Zealand rugby. He and fellow Aucklanders Sean Fitzpatrick and Olo Brown, hold the record for the longest serving front row in test history, playing 35 tests together. Dowd was considered invaluable due to his ability to prop on either side of the scrum.

He ended up playing 60 tests for the All Blacks, 83 matches for Auckland and 64 Super 12 games for the Blues before signing a two-year contract with the London Wasps.

Dowd is now the club’s forward coach following restructuring after the departure of Warren Gatland. Moving into coaching was always the plan Dowd says.

"Originally I was thinking play out the two years and then get involved with one of the smaller clubs. But then I rediscovered that spark and I signed on again."

Coaching involves another skill set to being a player and a lot of responsibility he says.

The best lesson he took from his own coaches over the years concerns the unhappy job of dropping players.

"When you do drop a player, remember why you selected him in the first place. You’ve got to look him in the eye and tell him honestly what’s going wrong," he says.

Dowd is learning all the time, grateful for the fact he works with two experienced coaches, Ian McGeechan (who was part of Clive Woodwards’ Lions coaching team) and Shaun Edwards.

The London Wasps are currently first equal on the Guiness Premiership table.

Join a host of current All Blacks and other rugby heroes including Lawrence Dallaglio, Carlos Spencer, Zinzan Brooke and Justin Marshall on November 16 to celebrate Craig Dowd’s career. Tickets are £1620+vat (table of 12) or £810+vat (for six). Call 0207 501 4820 for enquiries or email [email protected]

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